September 30, 2021
We left our hillside bicycle resort in Imperia, Italy for a 96 kilometer ride into France and the city of Nice. Along the way we continued to skirt the beaches of the Italian and French Rivieras. Once nice stretch of around 20 kilometers was over a well maintained bike and pedestrian pathway connecting a few of the resort towns. It was great to ride without worrying about motor vehicles. These pathways follow what may have been discontinued auto routes and the communities along the way have maintained the tunnels formerly used to cut through the rocky cliffs along the way. One tunnel was 1800 meters long, well lit and decorated with banners extolling the achievements of bicycle racers. The entire route seemed busy, even on a Thursday in September. Cyclists, walkers, joggers and active commuters alike seemed to gravitate to this safe recreational and transportation corridor.
The first two thirds of today were fairly flat on the bike path and seaside roads. However, our tour director and route planner, Gergo had arranged one of his “more interesting” routes for the last leg around Monte Carlo and into Nice. Crossing the border into France was a non-event with no one interested in seeing our passports or even bothering to ask us to stop. Shortly thereafter we left the coastal road for a route that bent and curved its way upwards following the contours of the high, rocky hills along the coast. The climb was mostly but not totally gradual and seemingly without end as we rose higher and higher above the Mediterranean and around the city of Monte Carlo. Three quarters of the way to the summit we had our lunch break by the side of the road and then back into the grind to the top. Panoramic vistas along the way kept spirits high and made the climb enjoyable.
As we neared the top Gergo had added a special treat, one extra climb through a nature preserve. From my viewpoint the only nature being preserved were some trees. Trees that blocked any potential scenic view from top. On the downward side, the rough, steep and narrow roadway required hard and almost constant pressure on our brake levers to slow our descent around the hairpin turns. The roadway outside of the preserve offered a longer and more gradual way down but having enjoyed all that the nature preserve failed to offer we had to endure the more rugged route.
Eventually we emerged from the mountainside onto the busy streets of Nice and the zig-zag route through town to our hotel. Tomorrow is a day to explore Nice before getting back into some serious climbing.